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NextGen Infrastructure Initiative - Houston Metroplex (OAPM)

Project Information

NextGen is the modernization of our national airspace - a complex initiative that integrates new and existing technologies. The FAA has created the OAPM initiative to optimize the airspace, and estimates that this pilot project in Houston will translate to an estimated annual savings of 2.5 to 6.9 million gallons of fuel and reduces carbon emissions by 26K to 71K tons. Watch concept video. This Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) pilot project will create Next Generation (NextGen) aviation procedures, including the implementation of new, more efficient routes, for airports in Houston, Texas. These procedures must comply with internal FAA approvals as well as review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). FAA is using an Environmental Management System (EMS) approach to tightly integrate the NEPA reviews into FAA ' s internal approval process, which will expedite this project. Studying the impacts of the new procedures also will serve as a demonstration project for future NextGen procedural improvement on future projects. FAA also has developed a NextGen NEPA Plan to serve as a high-level guide to improvements in the way the FAA implements NEPA and ensure timely, effective, and efficient environmental reviews of proposed NextGen improvements. As part of this plan, FAA will use a Focused Environmental Assessment (EA) approach to yield more concise and timely environmental reviews for proposed FAA actions. Tightly integrating the NEPA review into FAA ' s Internal process will expedite the review time for this project, and studying the impacts of the new procedures will serve as a demonstration project for future NextGen procedural improvements on future projects. A metroplex is one or more busy airports surrounded by complex airspace. An optimization of that airspace involves a systematic, integrated, and expedited approach to implementing satellite navigation procedures. These satellite navigation procedures allow aircraft to fly precise flight tracks without regard for specific ground based navigational aids. These new procedures are part of a larger process called Optimization of Airspace and Procedures in the Metroplex (OAPM). A typical OAPM project uses an already expedited life-cycle of about 3 years from Study to Implementation. As part of an initiative to expedite reviews of new NextGen enabled procedures, the FAA will further expedite implementation of new, more efficient routes for airports in the Houston area. This new accelerated process can bring benefits to the Houston metroplex in about 24 months. OAPM projects utilize two types of collaborative teams: Study Teams provide a comprehensive but expeditious front-end strategic look at each major metroplex. Using the results of the Study Teams, Design and Implementation (D&I) Teams provide a systematic, effective approach to the design, evaluation, and implementation of new satellite navigation based procedures along with airspace modifications to optimize benefits of the new procedures. Implementing satellite navigation procedures, along with complementary airspace modifications will result in fewer track miles flown, reduced fuel consumption and less greenhouse gas emissions. These procedures must comply with existing FAA standards, criteria and requirements, and with requirements for environmental reviews. Expediting these reviews while developing and analyzing new procedures will demonstrate streamlined environmental processing for future NextGen procedural improvements. After completion of this pilot in Houston the FAA may propose additional areas for more expedited testing and deployment. In each instance, the FAA would be using streamlined environmental processes.NextGen procedures will typically result in a number of environmental benefits. By utilizing satellite navigation that employs both new and current technology, such as Global Positioning Systems (GPS), FAA will improve the safety and efficiency of the National Airspace System (NAS) while reducing emissions and conserving energy. The FAA will ensure that the air traffic controller workforce is properly trained in the use and implementation of these procedures.


Based on studies already performed for Houston OAPM, this initiative will translate to an estimated annual savings of 2.5 to 6.9 million gallons of fuel, equivalent to 7.5 to 21 million dollars at the current fuel cost. Carbon emissions are expected to be reduced by 26K to 71K metric tons. Additional savings in delay hours, and other benefits will be calculated based on the results of the project. All project funding can be obligated and projects underway in the next two years. Improvements to the air transportation infrastructure stimulate the economy in a myriad of ways both directly and indirectly related to aviation. Increased air access to the Houston area resulting from these improvements can be expected to produce both direct and indirect jobs.

Links for EMS, NEPA Plan, and Focused EA

Reviews, Approvals and Permits

Title Responsible Agency Responsible Agency POC Target Completion Date Status
Post Implementation Dennis E. Roberts 1/29/2015 Complete
Study Dennis E. Roberts 8/18/2011 Complete
Coordination Dennis E. Roberts 1/08/2012 Complete
Design Dennis E. Roberts 7/05/2012 Complete
Evaluation Dennis E. Roberts 1/10/2013 Complete
Implementation Dennis E. Roberts 5/28/2014 Complete